Moderated by Henrik de Gyor
Below is a link to the unedited audio recording (Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes):
Moderated by Henrik de Gyor
Below is a link to the unedited audio recording (Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes):
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Dan Piro. Dan, how are you?
Dan Piro: Good. How are you?
Henrik de Gyor: Great. Dan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Dan Piro: I’m the Director of Digital Asset Archive with the National Hockey League. I oversee a team that’s responsible for ingesting video, digitization projects, metadata application, metadata integrity, and we work alongside of the post-production team here, NHL Studios to support their media needs and also the NHL Network and work together, solve problems, and help them create compelling content.
Henrik de Gyor: Dan, how does a professional ice hockey league use Digital Asset Management?
Dan Piro: Primarily we use it to send and receive media and to archive it. We have coming in from 30 arenas around the continent every game and you can have up to 15 a night. You get three feeds of the game from the time they press record, you’re talking four or five hours which can add up to 250-300 hours in a single night. So, you have all that material coming in and where you used to have to wait for tapes to come in by FedEx and that type of thing, now we have all the previous night’s games available for the start of the next work day. Our broadcast partners, our internal departments can use it. We get our photos coming in from photographers around the league and just bringing all this material together and having it at our fingertips in a very short timeframe allows us to like I said earlier, create compelling content, create it sooner and get it out the door.
Henrik de Gyor: Dan, what are the biggest challenges and success you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Dan Piro: Well, the biggest challenge I was cast with when I came aboard here at the NHL a little over two years ago was to digitize all the physical archives ahead of our centennial anniversary. If there’s any hockey fans listening, they would know that we got the NHL 100 branding all over the league this year. And to prepare for that, we had a very short timeframe to digitize 150,000 or so videotapes, a half a million still images, slides, negatives prints, over a million documents that our PR department had and that’s game sheets which are the scorecards that the official scorer keeps in the arenas. That dates back to the second season, so we’re talking as far back as 1918.
And statistics records back to the very beginning of the league. Back then, they kept these huge ledgers throughout the season and every goal was marked down, every assist was marked down in these huge ledgers and we had to get all that content scanned and have it all ready to go so that we could celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the league. So as you can imagine, just the logistics of moving all that physical material around from various locations to various vendors; that’s a nightmare in and of itself. But we have a great team, our archive manager is the most organized guy I think I’ve ever met in my life and his system to track all this stuff and make sure we got everything back really saved the day for us.
I had a team of 15 people working to ingest this content, QC it, verify that we’re getting a file back for everything that went out the door. It was just a massive, massive undertaking which at the same time that we were doing all this work, we were setting up a new DAM system. With the new DAM, we’re bringing all this content into the new DAM trying to dig into all of our legacy databases from our videotape database, to our scoring database and pull as much of the information that we can from there and map it to the data fields in the new DAM. Just a massive, massive project to get this thing stood up and ready to go and bring in future and current content at the same time. It was a huge challenge and I’m happy to say that from physical archive perspective, it was very successful, but going forward, there’s always new challenges and new things to tackle when you set up a system like that.
One of the other things we had to deal with in bringing all this content in, these half million images that was scanned, much of it had no data associated with it as far as who the players were, who the teams were that were pictured in these photos. This team of 15 hockey experts, subject matter experts came in and were able to look at these phots one by one and when you might not be able to tell just by looking at something, who these players are, these guys did incredible research to … if a player was shown taking a shot and he’s half-turned and you can see that his jersey number ends with either a three or an eight and his name ends with E-R, and it’s a blue jersey, who is he? And what year is it? And judging from the equipment the guy is wearing, whether they’re left-handed or right-handed, the advertisements on the boards in the background, all these things went into researching who these guys are and tagging them and giving those photos values. When you’re setting up these systems there’s no point if you don’t apply the proper metadata along with that. Kind of all one project but all these different spokes to the project were really the challenges that we faced and at the same time, some of the success that we had.
Henrik de Gyor: What advice would you like to share with young professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Dan Piro: I think we talked about this a little bit, a couple years ago when we did the podcast, and in the digital world that we’re living in now, I think everybody’s kind of a media manager. I sort of equated it to managing an iTunes library back in the day. And now with your DVR and backing up your phone and having an iCloud and all of these things that are part of everyday life and becoming more and more ubiquitous are really just a small scale of what media managers do professionally. You just have to scale that up to what the needs are in a multi-billion dollar corporation.
In terms of advice, if you’re organized with your personal media and you understand how to handle those practices, you can start to apply that at the entry level and then learn how larger companies do this type of thing. I think the interesting thing that’s happening in the DAM industry is that people are now coming out of school having studied to do this kind of work where historically, I think people from the era when I got into it were people that were industry professionals and they fell into it. Whether you were running a tape, library, or you’re a production manager and you fell into this asset management world, now these people are coming up studying how to do it. That’s great but I think that people that come in with that type of background are probably going to be very stuck in their ways a little bit. “This is how I was taught it should be done, this is how we need to apply these procedures”.
I would say that they should reach out to the many departments and people that they’ll be interacting with and learn how they work because in most cases, a DAM is a supporting role much like a supporting actor is trying to help the lead shine. That’s kind of what we’re doing. We’re finding ways to help the company shine and generate revenue off of what we’re doing. But we’re not necessarily the revenue generator. I think you need to keep that in mind and understand that you’re part of a larger team and it’s not just about the best way for you to manage assets, but the best way for the assets that you manage to serve the company that you work for.
Finally, the one thing that I beat like a dead horse to all of the more entry level people that I work with is network and don’t burn bridges. Your network is what helps you succeed in the industry. That’s how you get jobs, that’s how you meet people, that’s how you make the contacts for the job that you want. It’s very important to have your Linkedin account set up and have it up to date and make sure that you’re constantly keeping in touch with all of the people that you interacted with professionally. It’s very easy today to contact people that you’ve worked with in the past without being a pain in their butt.
I remember when I was getting in making phone calls to people that I’d run into and they just don’t have the time of day to take calls and do that type of thing. But you can easily send a message that they can get back to you at their convenience. The current era is the easiest era to network ever because you just have to search people, and use that to your advantage. Networking is really the key factor that I’ve had in my success I think.
Henrik de Gyor: Great. Well, thanks Dan.
Dan Piro: Thanks.
Henrik de Gyor: For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherdampodcast.com where you’ll find another 190 other episodes like this. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again.
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Nick Felder. Nick, how are you?
Nick Felder: I’m good, I’m good. Great to be here.
Henrik de Gyor: How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Nick Felder: I’m probably a very non-traditional, adherent proponent, advocate of digital asset management. My background is production. Here, at Coca-Cola, I’m the global head of film and music production for the entire enterprise, all territories and all brands. I really come at it from a user standpoint of the person in charge of making the stuff that’ll go into the DAM, and also the person who would use the stuff that he would take out. I’m kind of coming at it from a much more practical standpoint.
I do not have an IT background. I do not have a technical background. I’ve learned a boatload about both of those along the way. That’s how I found my way into this space in really helping the company globally, Coca-Cola globally, move forward, digitize its processes and get on capable platforms that can be deployed worldwide, right? We’re not looking at Europe has one, North America has another, South America has a third, you know, an individual company in South America has a fourth, that kind of thing. Keeping us all in the same platform.
Henrik de Gyor: Nick, how does the world’s largest beverage company use Digital Asset Management?
Nick Felder: It’s a really good question, because it has evolved over the years. Our first foray into digital asset management was mostly about distribution and getting assets from one part of the world to another. I should say probably the single word that describes the strategy, really underlines everything we do, is reuse. It’s all about reuse for us. Reuse of work is where the productivity comes from, where the efficiency comes from, where the speed to market comes from and that goes across all brands, all channels, all methodologies really. Everything needs to turn into everything. That is the mantra we use around here.
If I take a still image that was originally intended for out of home and it ends up on my phone, it may end up being a digital image or at least being distributed on a digital platform, but that doesn’t change what it is. Inherently, it is still an image with rights, if there are people in it, frames, resolution, this kind of thing. That mantra of reuse really, really is the main thing, if not the only thing, the company is really looking for in doing that. That means distribution globally, all media, movie media, still image media, audio and interactive, that means being able to do that with rights management components.
Parallel to the DAM system, we have a global rights management system where we’re able to pay, actually extend the usage rights of any work that got made anywhere in the world, so that any other market, anywhere in the world, can reuse it if it wants to. We’ve got a way of paying those rights’ holders reliably in their currency, in their market, globally. Actually unlocking that was really the key, the hidden key, to standing up a viable enterprise-wide DAM platform. It’s got to be transactional. People are going to reuse stuff around the world. Once they can reuse it, they always need to adapt it.
As they adapt it, change out their packaging, change out their logos, change out their branding, however they need to tag it before they put it on air, because that’s where the rubber hits the road, and then reloading that adapted version back into the DAM, so we have a parent-child structure set up to accommodate that. Everything gets associated with the initial core created unit that was made. Probably the last piece I’ll add to that, in the reuse thing is … The other piece of reuse is not just reusing the thing as the thing it was made for, so again if I made a piece of out at home and it gets adapted, another market to be reused as more out of home, that’s fine.
I think if we approach this stuff more … If we tag it and bag it, right, going into the DAM, we can reuse it more like a commodity. Footage, images, audio, it’s really just a commodity. We try to think of it like lumber, where you can remake anything out of it that you want. Here’s some footage of a Coke and meals, that’s interesting. You’re really just looking for some beach … A still image for a beach thing that you’re doing on a web-related platform. If you can … If that moving footage was captured and stored at a high enough resolution, and there is indeed a beach shot while you’re eating food in the Coke and meals spot on the beach, you can still it. You can grab it. You can reframe it, and then you can reuse that image however you want. You can even frame out the people, don’t get involved with rights issues.
It’s all that reuse for what I described initially, and then the last piece is really approaching it like a commodity. That commodity aspect has been mind-bending for a lot of associates around the world. Our agencies tend to understand it much better when we direct them to the DAM and say, “Go look for this. Go look for that. You can find the images you need to stand up whatever application, microsite, whatever social conversation you’re trying to put forward.” Just being able to approach it like a commodity has just provided a lot of freedom.
Henrik de Gyor: It sounds like reuse is the main way to get the maximum return on investment to your point.
Nick Felder: That’s the ROI. That’s the only ROI that I’m really judged on here and so far, so good. Fingers crossed.
Henrik de Gyor: Excellent. Nick, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Nick Felder: Wow. You know, it’s also a really good question. To be incredibly practical and non-BS about it, I think, at the end of the day, it really all boils down to the user experience. At no point, at least in my travels and really in everybody I’ve ever spoken to, at no point will you ever be in a position to get senior management or budget holders to dive into the details the way you need to dive into the details, and work out all the parameters that need to be worked out for the thing to work. Authentication, permissions, etc, etc, etc, all that stuff that makes it work the way it does, people are just going to look at it like “does search work?” If I put in some terms and I get some awesome results, excellent. It works.
If I put in terms and I get wildly results, or conflicting results or all the rest of it, it doesn’t work and thumbs down. As far as successes, I mean it’s one of those things where like all the homework that … It’s like good comedy. Actually that’s a better metaphor. Doesn’t matter how much research you do, doesn’t matter where you set the location, who you cast, all the rest of that, it’s did I laugh? If you laughed, then it’s funny. If you don’t laugh, it’s not funny and it’s really that way for digital asset management as well, at least in my experience.
The main challenge is always the return on investment. I described ours previously as reuse. That may not be, and I actually know in a lot of the markets, that’s not necessarily the ROI that people are after but that’s certainly ours. I think just being clear, it’s not complicated. Man, I’ve seen some cases studies where things get so involved and you can just tell there were like three, five different consultants brought in. The language is confused. The outcome is confused. The measurement and the metrics are confused. Keep it simple, keep it tight. Give yourself an easy to judge against premise to the point where even if the numbers don’t necessarily add up, everybody can feel it in their gut, right? That things are moving forward, that things are now happening reliably, consistently and that use is growing amongst whatever your user groups are.
Clear, simple, easy to understand ROI. I think a lot of times, budget holders and super senior management, I’m going to use a bad word here, but see a lot of ‘bullshitery’ around technology that goes this deep, because it’s not familiar to them. They feel like they might be being hoodwinked. If you can keep it in common, normal, or regular, plebeian language, English or whatever your native tongue is, just keep it simple. You can go a lot further towards winning people’s hearts. Avoid corporate speak, avoid tech speak. Just keep it real, and you can go a lot further. I broke my pencil trying to stand up a few versions of DAM before I got my first one off the ground, so I can speak to that pain firsthand.
Henrik de Gyor: What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Nick Felder: I’ll talk to the aspirationals first. I would say probably the easiest, again things that I learned the hard way, which is that, from my experience here, it’s not all about senior management sponsorship. That’s a piece of it, and it’s not all about massive consensus on the worker bee level. You need both. If I can give any advice to anybody trying to get into this space or struggling in this space, it’s to work both those angles at the same time.
Presentations, videos, messages, experientials, hands-on trial, whatever you need to do for senior management, and the same thing probably couched very, very differently, so strategic messaging for seniors and much more tactical, demonstrable, how this will make your day better kind of messaging for the worker bees. Working from the bottom up and the top down, so that there is a mix of strategic messaging and tactical messaging, strategic benefits and tactical benefits that are clearly being demonstrated in parallel, I think that’s the path. One will always point to the other and say, “Yeah. That’s all great. That’s awesome up at 30,000 feet but how does it really … Where does the rubber meet the road? How does it really work?”
If you figure out really how does it work, you’re going to get the exact opposite. That’s awesome, but what’s the strategic play here for bringing the country or the region, the territory, if not the planet, together onto a single platform. Approach both, and I think you probably have your, simultaneously, and you probably have your best chance for success, your best chance for winning.
Advice to existing DAM professionals, this with a smile, I’m not sure I can give much. I think most DAM professionals have probably struggled through a very, very, very long road. They already know where they are. Sometimes there’s not a lot of talking to them and, again I say that with a smile, I’m barely a DAM professional coming from the production side. I would simply say some of the developments in the last 18 months in the industry, going towards semantic graph databases and, yeah, neural networks and machine learning, all the buzz words that we’re hearing around the industry right now, but there’s real stuff in there that can toss out real, tangible benefits that were almost science-fiction four and five years ago.
It’s like, “Yeah, that’s nice. That’s just not happening in the real world in my lifetime.” Lo and behold, it’s happening and that’s great, at a consumer, or rather at a commercial grade level, and that’s great. Just stay on top of your tech.
Henrik de Gyor: Thanks, Nick.
Nick Felder: Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much.
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Julia Kim. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Julia Kim: Sure. I’ve been working, managing digital assets at the American Folklife Center for a little over a year. I also worked in preservation previously at New York University and with a commercial company as well. At the American Folklife Center, we received not only a lot of born digital collections, but we also have a large ethnographic folkloric multiformat collections that span from 19th century Edison cylinders that have been digitized multiple times as technologies increase to stuff like application, programming interface, grabs from https://storycorps.me. That all falls under the purview here.
Henrik de Gyor: How does the largest library in the world use Digital Asset Management?
Julia Kim: Sure. Here at the library, it supports our basic core functions and mission to preserve and provide access to Congress as well as the people of America here. Digital Asset Management here really encompasses a number of different systems, so we actually use, not only some in-house, homegrown repository systems, but a lot of different collection management systems that support our ability to locate, provide intellectual controls, do things like mass folk migrations, for example, or off of older servers or older systems or even formats. Of course, serve that up. One of the big pushes this past year in order to serve at a larger public is taking a lot of collection material that was previously analog and digitizing it in bulk, so we’re talking about 20 terabyte collections, easily, and putting them online.
All this requires a lot of management and control in terms of understanding the derivative creation. Also, managing the different staff, people involved throughout this process, and that includes not only vendors, but multiple departments external to the archive here that work with the larger library initiatives. It’s just really the core of what we do. We are a library. We are an archive. Without Digital Asset Management, whatever its forms may be, we would not be able to function. It’s not periphery. It’s the core function of … without it, the library would not be our library. The archive would not be our archive, I would say.
This past year, we’ve also switched from a previously … what was a rich, multiformat collection with a lot of sound recordings, actually, quarter inch audio or different tape formats, magnet media to primarily being born digital, about 2015, we totally flipped to being 98% in coming acquisitions being born digital, and that’s because, in some ways, with the born-digital shift, there has been much more. It’s so easy to create. The collections we get are becoming more, more massive in size, so scaling up and creating more flexible Digital Asset Management systems has also been a big shift in this past year. Again, that includes not only systems but staff as well, so cross-training so that using Digital Asset Management is not only just something I do, but it’s across our staff and our archivists where it’s something that all archivists have to do here, now.
Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Julia Kim: Some of the biggest challenges include trying to talk across these different systems, I would say. One of the pushes this year is actually creating more robust microservices for bashing actions that simultaneously update different parts of the Digital Asset Management systems that were previously isolated from one another, required more human intervention and, therefore, were more prone to human error, I would say. Another challenge is simply the fact that Digital Asset Management changes so quickly where the field was several years ago, where it is now, especially with more complex content to formats, means that you constantly have to educate yourself and to learn and understand and stay involved with the field in a way that you might not need to in other areas. One example of that is where you’re receiving DPX files, which is massive file type for movie image formats for scanned cellulite film, where it’s literally a image by image that it’s drawn together.
The standards in this are just evolving right now and being created. The standards bodies are trying to understand embedding metadata and appropriate ways to do that in creating tools, so this means there aren’t clear answers all the time for some of these things, which is also what I would say is the most exciting part of this profession and why I’ve been drawn to it.
Another success is the integration of digital forensics applications from more of the law enforcement computing fields to archival workflows in recent years. Just this morning, I was taking some old floppy discs, zip discs, for example, and I was able to migrate content off of that and read it, and I will ingest it later to our content management system, which is a great success because before really I would say that, at least in the archival field, these tools weren’t readily available, so a lot of this, what is really foreign digital content, was locked on this folder physical media and there weren’t the protocols in place to safely retrieve and ingest that content.
Henrik de Gyor: Julia, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Julia Kim: My advice to existing DAM professionals is to stay involved in the field because it does change so quickly. Whether this means coursework or conferences or simply networking and finding people in the field that you can talk to and talk these issues out, it’s, I would say, totally necessary involvement to be able to keep up as the field changes. My advice to people aspiring to become DAM professionals is to get a little taste of what it means to become a DAM professional. At least, in my experience, it means a lot of communication as well as technical issues and the technical troubleshooting.
That can mean a lot of meetings and a lot of advocacy across different departments. Trying to explain why things like metadata, for example, matter so much, or trying to explain why automation is important, but I think I’m just basically echoing a lot of what other people say and you got to stay involved. You have to maintain. You cannot just go to work and expect bigger data to work, necessarily. Since a lot of our work is tied up with the way different other technology, different shifts in vendors, different shifts in the consumer market. You have to just stay involved in a way that you, maybe, at least in the archival world, may not need to with analog stuff, or analog collection, necessarily, I think.
Henrik de Gyor: Thanks, Julia.
Julia Kim: Thanks.